Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile processors have carved a significant space for themselves in today’s mobile market, where they power hundreds of smartphones ranging from the Nokia Lumia 800 to the Samsung Galaxy S III.
But the chip maker has revealed a new Snapdragon lineup that suggests its reach will soon stretch beyond smartphones, into notebooks and smart TVs.
Within Qualcomm’s new line of Snapdragon processors will be the Snapdragon S4 Prime, designed to power next-generation smart TVs. Specs and technical details have not yet been revealed, but reports suggest the S4 Prime series will consist of the MPQ8064, a quad-core CPU that can reach clock speeds of 1.5GHz and is based on Qualcomm’s Krait architecture.
Qualcomm also revealed a new Snapdragon S4 Pro lineup, optimised for "ultra-thin" computing devices, including traditional clamshell notebooks, but wouldn’t disclose any further details related to form factor.
"Unfortunately, we can’t announce our partners’ plans or designs. They have decided it's too early to show their designs, and we respect that," a Qualcomm spokesperson told CRN.
"Qualcomm’s history is not to show things early; our history is to quietly execute and then deliver amazing designs and user experiences with our partners - at scale and globally."
Qualcomm marketing vice president Tom McDonough hinted to CRN in April Snapdragon-based ultra-thin notebooks are in the chip maker’s future.
He declined to comment whether notebooks were actually in the pipeline for 2012, but said Qualcomm is encouraging its OEM partners to explore new form factors, many of which will be based on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 platform.
"What’s key for us is that we are providing a piece of technology that OEMs can then do things with," McDonough said.
"You can build anything that your heart desires or anything that the OEMs think will drive uniqueness or value for them. With that chip [the Snapdragon S4], they could build clamshells, they could build a tablet, they could build a convertible [PC], they could build a smartphone -- really, any of the above."
Plans for Windows RT
Specifically, these devices would run a variant of Windows 8, known as Windows RT, which is optimised for ARM-based platforms like Snapdragon.
Similar to smartbooks, the smaller, ARM-based PC form factor proposed by Qualcomm in 2009 as an alternative to the netbook, these new Windows RT notebooks would compete directly against the x86-based Windows 8 notebooks from rivals including Intel and AMD.
Qualcomm showed off a Windows RT tablet prototype at the Computex Taipei event that touted a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4, the highest-end ARM-based processor in the Snapdragon line that comes equipped with a built-in 4G modem, according to reports.
A follow-up report, referencing Qualcomm Senior Vice President Rob Chandhok, suggested Snapdragon-powered Windows RT notebooks are currently in production.
In addition to the new Snapdragon S4 Pro and S4 Prime series, Qualcomm unveiled plans for a new Snapdragon S4 Play and S4 Plus chips, optimised for smartphones and tablets.